Last April, commenter Nagucci asked me to write a review on pink pineapples, which had just appeared on the scene in Toronto. Here in cow🤠town, we seem to get the cool trendy stuff a few months behind Ontario, but the Pinkglow® pink pineapple has finally surfaced at my local Costco. So I picked one up and here are my thoughts on it. My goal is to answer Nagucci’s question: does the taste justify the price? (Not sponsored, btw.)
However, currently they’re still more than double the price of a regular yellow pineapple. At my Costco, regular pineapples were being sold for $4.99 while the Pinkglow pineapples were $10.99 each.
The Pinkglow pineapples are also noticeably smaller than their yellow counterparts. Both pineapples were from Costa Rica, so I imagine the shipping/import costs were similar.
I don’t blame them for marking up the price, though; I mean this thing apparently took 16 years of R&D to create, so they gotta recover the development costs somehow.
Packaging & Presentation
The packaging of these pineapples is very simple and minimal: just a strip of paper labelling it as a Pinkglow® pineapple. I’ve seen some posts online that seem to indicate it can come in a fancy pink box, but at the Costco, they were just piled haphazard on crates like any other fruit.
I also find it pretty cool that they proudly state on the label that the pink pineapple is a product of bioengineering. Genetically engineered food has gained a bad rep in recent years (undeserved imo), and maybe the Pinkglow is an attempt to improve that public image. I’m sure all my biotech profs would be super happy if people become less afraid of GMOs because of this fruit!
You may also have noticed that pink pineapples don’t have the bushy spiky crowns that fresh pineapples usually come with. I quite like this feature. Sure, it’s less aesthetically pleasing because pineapples without crowns look kinda… bald, but they’re easier to transport and they don’t tear up your grocery bags.
According to Del Monte, the company that grows these fruits, the crowns have to be removed because they are replanted to grow the next crop of pineapples. Cynically, I feel like this is done to stop people from planting the crowns at home. If everyone can grow their own pink pineapples, that would undermine the exclusivity of the product.
History of the Pink Pineapple
Del Monte says it took 16 years to bring this fruit to market. Locals in South and Central America have grown pineapples for thousands of years, and in fact Del Monte cultivates these pink pineapples in Costa Rica, which is one of the world’s major suppliers of all pineapples.
I couldn’t find any information on the 5head that first brought up the idea of growing and selling a pink pineapple, or how that person was able to convince Del Monte execs that this was a good idea. I really wonder how that meeting would have gone, and just why the company decided to pursue a pink pineapple project of all things.
(An alternate theory I saw on a YouTube comment was that the R&D team were originally researching about something else, and ended up creating a pink pineapple as a “happy accident.” Which seems way more plausible tbh.)
At the moment, you can only buy this fruit in the United States or Canada. Both the FDA and Health Canada have approved this pink pineapple as being “as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterparts.”
Because it’s a new GMO product, they would likely need to get approval from the food safety authorities in any country they want to sell to.
A Look at the Science
No, the pink colour doesn’t come from being dyed. It’s due to a molecule that occurs naturally in many fruits: LYCOPENE. Per the FDA, “lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed.” Lycopene exists naturally in pineapples as well, but they also contain enzymes that convert the lycopene into another molecule, beta carotene, which is yellow. So the Del Monte scientists basically engineered a pineapple that expresses lower levels of this enzyme, to prevent the conversion into beta carotene. Thus, lycopene stays lycopene, and the pineapple stays pink.
I was impressed with how my pink pineapple tasted. It was perfectly ripe, super juicy, sweet and not sour. In short… like a high quality yellow pineapple. Both of my parents said it tasted like a very sweet regular pineapple.
However—and this was the biggest plus for me—I didn’t experience that tingling sensation in my mouth that I usually get with pineapple. I usually have to soak freshly sliced pineapple in salt water to reduce the weird feeling. That perception of burning and tingling is caused by another enzyme in pineapples that breaks down proteins, including the proteins in your mouth. So that’s why pineapple is know as the fruit that eats back. Fun times!
It turns out the Pinkglow pineapple contains less of this enzyme, which explains why I didn’t get the usual burning sensation when I dug into the freshly cut pieces, even though I didn’t salt them first. (I swear, I didn’t know about this until I started researching for this post, which was long after I already ate the pineapple. So it’s not all placebo okay?!)
Aside from that and the pink colour, the pink pineapple is like any other pineapple. It also behaves the same in recipes.
This is a cooking blog after all, so I wanted to try making some desserts that would showcase the vibrancy of this pink fruit.
Since I bought a single pineapple, I only had the chance to try it with two recipes. First, I attempted a vintage jello thing that I saw on /r/Old_Recipes. I used a spare can I had lying around and made my own “lime jello” with lime juice and agar powder. Unfortunately, I guess I didn’t leave enough room for the agar to set, or maybe the concentration wasn’t strong enough, because it kind of fell apart when I tried to remove it from the can. It was still tasty—pineapple and lime is a refreshing combination—but not pretty to look at.
After that failure, I recovered some of the leftover pineapple, and used those pieces plus the pineapple core to make a pineapple pie. Interestingly, the colour deepened from pale pink into an intense, orange-reddish hue after slowly heating it on the stove for around 20 minutes. I was hoping to release this recipe in time for Valentine’s Day, but I went through a really busy semester of school so I only got around to posting it in May. Well, there’s always next Valentine’s right?! You can find the recipe for pink pineapple pie here.
Yeah, I know people shit on this pineapple for its price and frivolity. As one food scientist complained, “We are buying a $49 pink pineapple and spending 16 years researching how to genetically engineer a pink pineapple and talk about privilege and First-world problems.” Also, Del Monte has gone pretty hard on the Instagram marketing which definitely turns off some customers.
But it makes a pretty cool gift or a neat centerpiece at a party. After all, when pineapples first became popular in 18th century Europe, Europeans used them as decorative table displays for dinner parties. There were even pineapple rentals for people who couldn’t afford to buy one outright. So we’ve really come full circle on this pineapple luxury issue LOL.
Overall, I think the current price of $10.99 for one of these pink pineapples is reasonable. Am I gonna buy another one? Not for a while, and that’s partly because I’m not a huge fan of pineapple in the first place. But like the shine muscat grapes, another expensive but delicious fruit, they’re worth the occasional splurge.
Where to Buy in Canada
In Calgary, I haven’t found this pineapple anywhere else other than Costco.
In Toronto, I’ve read that you can get them from Loblaw’s and WinCo.
If you’ve seen the Pinkglow pink pineapple for sale in your city, please leave a comment so I can update this post to include more locations.
Any other foods you want me to review? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to find it in the stores here.